Feeding Frenzy

Nine videos taken the same morning, February 5, 2022

A multi-day hatch of small fry around the time of a new moon triggered this Black Skimmers (scientific name: Rynchops niger) feeding behavior surf off Cocoa Beach, Brevard County on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iridescent Plumage

shiver me timbers

The third of my postings about the peafowl of Cape Canaveral…..we had our most intimate interactions on a Oak Lane, a small unpaved road off a Circle K (roadside convenience store). At one point a peacock approached Pam on the open windowed passenger side and almost pecked her.

The iridescent coloration is an illusion created by the structure of fine feather elements, called barbules. The impression on peahens varies with viewing angle, between 90 (head on) and 45 degrees to either side. The peacock will shiver his train when faced with a favored peahen. 

Click me for the first post of this series, “Male and Female Peafowl.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Train of the Male Peafowl

And some history about the “Peacock Neighborhood” of Cape Canaveral

February is Peafowl mating season and for Cape Canaveral the displays were especially fine. These were captured on a photography expedition via automobile, being especially fortunate in observing peacocks (male peafowl) on high perches oriented perfectly to display the magnificent train (trail).

Here is some information on Reddit from “Mr_mayhem77 “According to locals, the Eberwein family lived between Port Canaveral and what is now the Villages of Seaport. In fact a street is actually named after them (Eberwein Drive) at the northern edge of Cape Canaveral. They had the peafowl among many farm animals. The family moved in 1986 and abandoned the peafowls. Over the years the peafowl have slowly populated our community with the greatest concentration being north of Central Ave.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Male and Female Peafowl

Peacock Neighborhood, Cape Canaveral I

On a day February 2022 Pam and I decided to walk the beach starting from Cheri Down Park, Ridgewood Avenue, Cape Canaveral headed north toward Jetty Park hoping to catch a postponed rocket launch rescheduled for that afternoon. We were encouraged to find video news crew positioned near the park entrance as these professionals were in the know for the best spots to watch the spectacle.

We walked a mile or so, more than halfway to Jetty Park, when the word circulated the rocket launch was cancelled. Rather than turn around, we decided to explore the walkway that opens on “Peacock Beach” as Google Map listed a public parking space there, quite a bit closer to Jetty Park. This park charges a hefty entrance fee to non-residents, so we were parking at Cheri Down, we saved $10 for each mile walked.

Having leisure, we decided to walk back to Cheri Down the long way. In what turned out to be a 1.7 mile stroll we encountered these residents for which the beach is named. Then and there Pam and I decided to return for a dedicated photography expedition, the results of which I will share over several posts.

Click Me for the next post of this series, “Train of the Male Peafowl”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

A Day in a Life

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” Henry David Thoreau

Images saved from this winter day of beachcombing and exploring around Cocoa Beach, Brevard County, Florida

Sunrise

The Day Taking Shape

Beach Wandering

Kite Boarding

Beauty in Motion I

Beauty in Motion 2

Beauty in Motion 3

Manatee Park Wildlife

Biplane

I saved this to share with the grandchildren

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Brock-Harvey Forest Preserve

first look

On September 14, 2013, the Bock-Harvey Forest Preserve was dedicated protecting 48 acrea of open meadow, transitional meadow, mixed hardwood forest, a special environmental protection zone and the Finger Lakes Trail.  Brock-Harvey Forest Preserve, and all land as far as the eye can see from there, was part of the Military Tract of Central New York, 28 townships given classical Greek and Roman names, each township 100 lots of 600 acres each, approved by the U.S. Congress 1799.  Here, the township was Ulysses, encompassing the southern end of Cayuga Lake and surrounding lands.  Thus, the city of Ithaca and Hector Street winding up from the valley passing below our home.

This land and several other military tracts were purchased by Samuel Harvey.  He then gave he lands to his sons including this farm to Silas Harvey, the great-great-great-great grandfather of Megan Barber who led the dedication ceremony of the forest preserve.  Megan’s great-grandmother Martha Harvey married Fred Bock and lived on this land used for dairy farming for over 150 years. 

The preserve exceeded my expectations for great upland views.

View from Shelter across the valley of Enfield Creek, the same that flows over Lucifer Falls of Treman State Park

Brock-Click me for another Brock-Harvey Forest Preserve post, “Burgeoning Forest.”

References

The background on the land was taken from a posting on the preserve and from Wikipedia, “Military Tract of Central New York.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Willets Feeding As Group

Ocean Bounty Brings Solitary Birds Together

Walking mornings along the beach I encounter, one after the other, solitary sandpipers, called Willets. Before encountering this group, I noticed massed Black Skimmers feeding in the surf and, on the beach, a single, tiny (1/8th of an inch) fish that I scooped up and returned to the surf. My surmise is these several days around the full moon, fish were being birthed and swarming to provide a bounty that brough these solitary Willets together.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

The Thaw at Taughannock Falls

A Friday Evening Stroll through a February Thaw

Pam and I were drawn outside the day after Valentine’s a bit of sun, an unreliable warm breeze, a promise of exercise. Our expectations were disappointed for all but the last at the foot of the Taughannock Falls gorge trail.

We had a reminder mid-February marks the start of avian mating behavior with this addition to the view from Taughannock Creek, the first large waterfall. For the cold, drizzly excursion I chose the IPhone, in a waterproof case, for the images. The fanicful birdhouse inscription reads “The Old Birds from Pa.”

Click the photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” Online gallery.

The winding gorge takes a general east, southeasterly direction. Where the sun cannot reach the snow was reduced to a treacherous slushy ice mix more nasty than dangerous.

View from the Overlook on the way to the trail. This is the endpoint of our hike, viewed from the gorge rim.

Of all the area hiking experiences, Taughannock Gorge Trail is the only one available year round. The gorge is wide with enough room for the footpath to avoid the cliff edge. Today, there were places were ice formations were throwing large ice chunks down the slope. The park ranges place tree trunks along the cliff base, with warning signs to stay away. Still, there are visitors who stray too close with fatal outcomes reported by local news.

Pam was fascinated by the appearance of snow and ice accumulated on the talus, here seen from the Taughannock Falls viewing bridge.

Click photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” online gallery. Photo by Pam.

You can just pick out the viewing bridge in the Falls Overlook video.

Click photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” Online Gallery.
Photo by Pam.

Taughannock Falls bound by ice is a most dramatic sight. I need to post photographs from a 2005 visit during an especially frigid February. Here, the falls have thrown off the ice, leaving this house-size chunk.

Click photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” Online Gallery

The surrounding gorge walls are continually frost coated by the mist.

Click the photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” Online Gallery
210 foot Taughannock Falls from the viewing bridge.

In more clement seasons the Gorge Trail ends much closer to the falls. Today, it was closed as, during winter and especially thaws, blocks of the sandstone cap break away to fall with great force across that part of the trail. This viewing area is visible in the Falls Overlook video.

Ice Bells

Noticing small miracles, taking the time and effort to capture them…..

These icicles were formed along Fall Creek during the coldest months of February in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

The transient nature of these forms is suggested by the thinness of the pedicle joining each bell to the ice lobe of the ledge. Note the golden crystals in the ice lobe.

A visualization of the symbolic power of the numeral three, reflected on itself.  Question: what do “threes” mean to you?

Captured with the Sony DSLR-A700, DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 lens, hoya circular polarizing filter, mounted on the Manfrotto tripod with ball head.

Click the photograph for my online gallery Ice Bells listing.

Fall Creek Winter

The magic of ice, water, light

This January 2005 morning dawned cold, the risen sun low to the south of a forested esker ridge, as I suited up for this long planned for photograph.  A Sony DSC-F828, a UV filter and tripod were all I needed to capture this.  That camera model has a integrated flex lens.  I needed to stabilize the lens to achieve this image clarity, depth and sharpness.

The shimmering gloss was achieved by waiting until the sun was above the ridge, shining light shafts through the trees, lighting the water obliquely.

As late as January the stream carries enough heat to create a fog or mist as the air chills after sunset.  This causes twigs to frost up to create those white stick figures on the far bank.  Snowfall from the previous day clings to trees.

Fall Creek freezes from the bottom up.  First the water smoothed boulders accumulate a glaucous ice coat.  Slowly moving water freezes from the edges, in stages, the middle stage an ornate filagree.  The stream narrows downstream where the surface ice first joins.  As the year progresses through February the creek gradually recedes under the ice, replaced by an ice road.

What is an esker ridge?  As the last glaciers melted 10,000+ years ago, the channels carrying meltwater and sediment, under the glaciers, deposited these winding ridged hills.  One of the outcomes was the channel of Fall Creek was altered to flow through the field of eskers among which, in the 19th century, a dam and water mill were created.  It made barrels and furniture.  My former home, in this photograph, was converted from the workshop of that mill.